Plant envy

Posted: Thursday 26 April 2012
by Andy Sturgeon

The worst thing about this time of year is that, as everything starts growing, I see plants and think ‘I wish I had that’.

Copper sculpture being assembled, for use in Andy Sturgeon's Chelsea 2012 show garden

The worst thing about this time of year is that, as everything starts growing, I see plants and think ‘I wish I had that’. And there’s no escape. Even driving along the motorway I’m looking at the desiccated seedheads from last year's teasels and thinking ‘if only…’ Of course there aren’t any nurseries that grow them in large pots (why would they?). Having a tap root, they’re impossible to dig up at this late stage, so I can’t even consider panic buying. I take a step back and I realise I’m now coveting weeds. This is what Chelsea has done to me.

Last weekend I stumbled across Rosy Hardy from Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants and she was selling (rapidly) an exquisite soft orange geum, ‘Totally Tangerine’. Wonderfully upright and tall, it would work really well in my scheme if I use orange, but unfortunately I don’t know if I will. The quandary is this: my pale stone and copper would go really well with the wine colours of Lysimachia ‘Beaujolais’, sanguisorba and black Iris chrysographes; but if I start to mix in too many of the blues, yellows and oranges that I have planned, it will essentially dilute the colour scheme and possibly become a little too ‘cottagey’. 

I could just buy these new geums that have appeared on my radar. I can just about afford it within the budget, but do I need them? I already have the straightforward pinky orange Geum rivale, also known as drooping avens, which says a lot about what it thinks of itself. In truth it has a few small flowers on short stems and lots of boring leaves. I have no idea what I was thinking when I ordered it. Chris Marchant from Orchard Dene Nurseries even told me not to. And then I’ve got the white form of the same thing – I am a glutton for punishment - and also ‘Lemon Drops’, which is as you’d expect. I’ve always grown an orange geum for Chelsea, but not this year and now I miss it. 

To make matters worse, I've just been visiting the copper sculpture that will form the centrepiece of the garden; it would go very well with a tall soft orange geum. It’s very confusing. I wish there was a manual for this sort of thing.

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happymarion 27/04/2012 at 11:37

I know exactly how you feel, Andy. I have just fallen and bought Heuchera "Midnight Rose" while at the shops and have been worrying where to plant it all the way home. "Lime Marmalade" was easy and the caramel coloured ones looks superb among the bluebells. But very dark purple with pink spots? Perhaps i can pick up the pink in the spots among my primulas. Just like painting really. Perhaps art classes are the answer.

Reluctant Gardener 29/04/2012 at 17:24

I know what you mean, Andy and Marion. Gardener's World is a major culprit: after seeing Monty D planting a wall with roses and clematis the other week, I did some incontinent spending, both on-line and in the real world, and ended up with climbing plants galore. 2 clematis went in the garden, and 'Golden Showers' and 'Morning Jewel' roses are now planted by the allotment fence, with another clematis about to climb the shed. It's the names that seduce me more than the colours. So I've overpopulated my allotment with raspberry canes: Belle de Malicorne, Malling Admiral, Polka - how could anyone resist?!

Marinelilium 30/04/2012 at 02:14

I have long lusted after a Cyperus papyrus. Why do I crave such a demanding diva, an expensive, high maintenance beauty? Every time I see one I feel as though I should have booked an appointment and worn something more elegant than wellies, jeans and a fleece jumper with holes .

AliP 01/05/2012 at 14:43

Go for it Andy! I love abit of orange and like you said it looks like it could work perfectly with the sculpture. Good luck!

cedric blackwell 02/07/2013 at 07:23

I have just bought a Heuchera midnight rose and would like to know how to split or divide it,    

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